Mortality in East African shorthorn zebu cattle under one year: predictors of infectious-disease mortality

Samuel M Thumbi, Mark Bmdec Bronsvoort, Henry Kiara, Phil G Toye, Jane Poole, Mary Ndila, Ilana Conradie, Amy Jennings, Ian G Handel, Jaw Coetzer, Johan Steyl, Olivier Hanotte, Mark Ej Woolhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Infectious livestock diseases remain a major threat to attaining food security and are a source of economic and livelihood losses for people dependent on livestock for their livelihood. Knowledge of the vital infectious diseases that account for the majority of deaths is crucial in determining disease control strategies and in the allocation of limited funds available for disease control. Here we have estimated the mortality rates in zebu cattle raised in a smallholder mixed farming system during their first year of life, identified the periods of increased risk of death and the risk factors for calf mortality, and through analysis of post-mortem data, determined the aetiologies of calf mortality in this population. A longitudinal cohort study of 548 zebu cattle was conducted between 2007 and 2010. Each calf was followed during its first year of life or until lost from the study. Calves were randomly selected from 20 sub-locations and recruited within a week of birth from different farms over a 45 km radius area centered on Busia in the Western part of Kenya. The data comprised of 481.1 calf years of observation. Clinical examinations, sample collection and analysis were carried out at 5 week intervals, from birth until one year old. Cox proportional hazard models with frailty terms were used for the statistical analysis of risk factors. A standardized post-mortem examination was conducted on all animals that died during the study and appropriate samples collected.
Original languageEnglish
Article number175
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Veterinary Research
Issue number1
Early online date8 Sep 2013
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sep 2013


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